Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Newfoundland - Land of Rugged seashore, fishing villages & Color

After a 7 hour overnight ferry ride, we landed in Port Aux Basques.  We began our drive up western coastline to Gros Morne National Park.

Let me digress a bit.  Newfoundland and Labrador together are a province of Canada, with population of 520,000 (20,000 or so in Labrador).  Half of the population live on the northeast Avalon Peninsula.  Its history is steeped in cod fishing (disallowed after 1992) and seal hunting.  It joined Canada in 1949.  After joining Canada, there was a push to move people to closer communities to be able to provide services.  The are still deserted communities to be seen dotted along the coast out on the islands.  Between consolidation and the end of the cod fishing, many communities are left empty.

And roads are still few in many areas.  The coasts, where the villages exist (the Tidy Towns ... more on that later) are often filled with artist studios and folk music.  The people are amazingly friendly, ready to strike up a conversation, and share their culture.

We are here in August, and the days and nights are often cool.  Winter is long.  And judging from the amount of cut fire wood we have seen by homes, we will not come for a winter visit.

The roads all have signs about the number of car/moose accidents so far this year.

We were too late for the the floating icebergs (July), too late for the whales (July &early August), but we saw Eagles and Puffins.  Wild blueberries and strawberries on almost all our walks.  And just incredible scenery.

On the docks at Norris Point, toasting a successful arrival in Gros Morne National Park.

On daily strolls, walks, hikes, many well groomed trails, always rolling mountain peaks in one or more directions. And more often than not wooden boardwalks protected us from mucky bogs and innumerable streams.

And even an obligatory waterfall, unfortunately too early in the afternoon for a bear sighting frequented in the area.

Off we went for a cruise on West Brook Pond, a nine mile glacial scoop.

Kayak tour on Bonne Bay, with guide and rented boats, along with a late morning SE breeze raising white caps for a bit of a rollicking ride across the bay.  Needless to say the tour was cut short. Time enough to explore Woody's Point, lunch, and the park's interpretive center for a bit of wifi.

And so began our 'red chair' fetish, egged on by the National Park's folks encouraging visitors to find and photograph the many pairs of chairs throughout the park. Hint: in case you have not followed our frequent Facebook postings, as of September 1st, we located eleven pairs (albeit some in Terra Nova NP and St John's).

Yes, the Newfoundland fishing industry collapsed in the 60s. Abandonded, boarded up, or relocated, many 'outports' (isolated fishing villages) were consolidated to larger villages where government services could be delivered.

And of course an obligatory lighthouse...at Lobster Cove.  Hear the one about lighthouse dinner reservations that turned out to be at a lighthouse five hours north and across the channel on Labrador's mainland?

The Tablelands, where the earth's mantel was forced up and exposed. Apparently the only place on the planet, and as observed none to fertile. A wasteland where little life can thrive.

Atop 'Lookout' above Woody's Point, winds a blowing, clear skies to Lobster Cove Lighthouse to the north, and Tablelands to the south.

By now for sure we've visited a few dozen of the provinces 'Tidy Towns' annual winners.

Yes, its been a long week, wonderful in Gros Morne. Just bear with us as we depart on our journey to Terra Nova....

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Lunenburg - town of music, scenery and adventure

Our stay began with the Lunenburg Folk Festival.  We made two days of a three day festival - full of traditional folk and fiddle music.  Some musicians we recognized, many we experienced new.  Two full days of good music, and a fine introduction to Lunenburg.  The town was full of photo ops.

We booked into a wonderful Airbnb, with our host Jill, who gave us the home away from home that we had wished had been our home.
Jill's home.

We felt both comfortable, relaxed and enjoyed our stay at Jill's, a warm and lovely host, with loads of info and ideas for our visit.

Like most of the area, Lunenburg grew up with the fishing industry - and the culture, people are all based in, and around, the sea.  Taking advantage of being on the coast, we kayaked (and stayed in the boat), biked, hiked the coast, and visited several small villages along the way.

Karen surrounded by Cairns on the Crescent Beach walk.

I finally got Ron to slow down.

 Art studios and galleries are everywhere.  Here was a very charming one in the village of Petite Reviera.  We found a whimsical piece for our apartment.  Now we just have to figure out where we have space to hang it.  Also an interesting park - The Ovens, partially owned by the Chapmans (as in Harry Chapman) , and they (of course not including Harry) were in Lunenburg for a concert.
Great bakery.  Worth the detour to Le Have.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Power to the Devices

It has been a while since we blogged, and we have some wonderful times to share, and wonderful scenery.

But this entry is about what happens when you travel with all your devices.  On our six hour drive from Gros Morne National Park which is on the bottom of the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland to the Central section to Terre Nova National Park, we were powering our devices.

Plugged into the car:

1)  Ron's cell phone
2)  Karen's cellphone
3)  Additional cellphone battery
4)  Ron's electronic toothbrush base
5)  Ron's kindle fire
6)  Karen's Kindle e-book
7)  Ron's fitbit
8)  Large battery for juicing up devices during the week camping.  Particularly our electronic air mattress which replaced our battery run mattress which sprung a leak in our first night in Gros Morne.

Still to be charged:  a) Karen's fitbit; b) Karen's toothbrush base; 3) Karen's tablet.
So much for the simple life out in nature.

So much for the simple life out in nature.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Met A Brave Sailor Along A Halifax Pier

From the north shore's tidal shoreline we drove swiftly to Nova Scotia's south shore. Home to Halifax, maritime traditions, and mile after mile of rocky coastline. Our first AirB&B stay, on Duncan's Cove, a short 20k down a peninsula from Halifax.

And to our amazed good fortune, aside from the incredible deck view on the cove, a coastal trail set out just across the road (so that's what all the cars are doing down this remote road!).  in comparison to our hike on Cape Split, this coastal route was entirely in the open, a mile plus out, and back again. spectacular vistas the entire route.

Yes, accommodations and trailhead inclusive of seal rocks.

As well, we arrived just in time for Halifax's 'Busker Festival'. Full with high anticipation we set out to see Halifax on Natal Day weekend, the province's birthday, heading for the waterfront and hopes of grand entertainment.

Well, maybe a bit more carnival than expected. This circus, while entertaining paled in comparison to the busker fest we bumped into while in Victoria a couple of years ago. Tourists, maybe locals, on the harbour front were fairly thick as well. Back to the coastline....

Aye, its a foggy business this day, clearly not a good day for a kayak launch. so off to plan B, Crystal Crescent Provincial Park for an extreme coastal route....

'Extreme', you bet, two hours into this foggy, muddy mess, the trail markers were no more. The path ahead was along bouldered coastline, heavy fog and chancing mist. All alternate route options being less appealing we chose Plan C, head back the way we came. Arrrgh! Safe and sound, under nearly sunny skies we returned to our car in half the time expected. Still, incredibly gorgeous coastline.

With another foggy day set upon us we did what any holiday maker might, we sallied forth and drove to Peggy's Cove (only Peggy hasn't been there in over a century). In case you missed the Nova Scotia highlights review, Peggy's Cove is the number one tourist attraction in the province. A beaut when the fog lifts.  Just not today. Altho that didn't slow down the steady stream of tourists arriving...

Alas a clear blue sky, and time for a maiden paddle for this trip. Off to Sambro Harbour, where we'd scoped out a boat ramp and a nice sized inner harbour...

A fine start, suited up, warm, paddling smooth....

Paddling into an inner cove connecting to a long lake, this lighthouse sits on a small island off a lakeshore residence.....

Shortly after leaving the lighthouse, and some time before this ready-to-drive-away scene, Ron and Karen took an agility swim, swamped kayak in rushing waters beneath a bridge, swam 50 yards or so with kayak, made it onto rocks, bailed kayak, set out to retrieve one lost paddle, found a boat ramp on other side of lake, hauled ashore, retrieved car, and dried up. Did I mentíon that Ron lost one bootie and a water bottle?  Brrrr.

On to Lunenburg next for a folk festival this weekend.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Tides, Lobsta, And Of Course Wines

When travelling Nova Scotia , as in Maine, there is no lacking in either signage or anticipation of our beloved sea critter the lobsta'.......
Halls' Harbour, where a moderate lobster fleet brings in the catch. And, being on the Bay of Fundy the tides roll in and out, in a big way!

On an historical note, even before Bostonians were considering tea with their lobsters, brave French Acadians on lands to become known as Nova Scotia became entrapped non-participants in battles between British and French empire builders. The Acadians, farmers in the New World, were eventually evicted by thee British with a majority being forcefully transported to either Louisiana (nnow known as Cajuns) or Quebec. Longfellow's Evangeline tells a dramatic version of their gruesome exile.  Here is a statue dedicated to Evageline.
A hiking we go, gotta earn those ice cream and local brew goodies. Today, off to the most popular north shore hike on Cape Split, located betwixt the Bay of Fundy and Minas Basin. And if the hydrologists are correct, more water passes between Cape Split and its opposing north shore each day than flows down the sum of all global rivers. Wowsa.

As the surge toward low tide begins again.

Hike completed, exhausted after our five hour return walk out the cape and back, our final day on the north shore deserves something a bit more refined. Something aged in oak perhaps?

Ok, a bit of British influence. But it was a  real phone box, sans Dr Who, sitting in the middle of a vineyard and offering free phone calls at Luckett's Vineyards. Sorry none of you were home to take our calls.

And the double decker, now in its second life after serving the streets of London.  See, safe wine tasting, we left the driving to the Magic Winery Bus.

But alas, I beg your patience with one more scene from the vineyards. This one L'Acadie, an organic operation, with our host being the most dynamic,effervescent presenter we've met in a long time.

As for the wines, some enjoyable crisp and floral varietals, particular 'Tidal Bay' from Gaspereau Vineyards.  Some very pleasant reds as well, darker, blacker blends.  will all be worth a revisit in another five years.

And so au revoir north shore, off to the big city on the south shore, Halifax.

Our ship (ferry) is in - Bay of Fundy

Twelve days after leaving Hollywood, multiple stops & visits, it is time to drive on to the ferry which will take us from Portland, Maine to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

After a night's sleep in our berth, we drive onto our first stop - the Blomindon Provincial Park on the north side of the island.  First of several campgrounds.  Did I mention it was pouring by the time we got there?

But finally we got set up.  Our deluxe campsite.

Where's the toilet?  Closest one is down the hill, but no running water.  A bit further uphill, with flushies and sinks.

Even so, we managed some amazing days -  the home to the highest tides in the world.

And the difference on the shore between high & low tides is phenomenal.  Boats seen in mud,
are hours later are at level with the pier.  And the beach shore is very different between high & low tide.  Theses photos are taken from the same spot hours apart.